The Act of Marriage, by Tim and Beverly LaHaye
By the “act of marriage” the authors mean “sex.” This book was highly recommended to my wife and I from our pre-marital counseling mentors. However, they cautioned us to read it only after we were married, since it is very explicit about the intricacies of sex. And let me tell you, this book was hard to put down! It was really good; it approached sex from a Christian perspective, which means that the “act of marriage” was portrayed as something beautiful, it did make crude or dirty comments about sex, and it was full of practical information. In this post, I will avoid talking about the practical details that I learned from reading this book (I’ll let you read the book on your own to discover those secrets). However, if you are uncomfortable reading about sex, then I suggest that you stop reading.
The four central principles of the book are:
Both the husband and the wife have sexual needs that should be fulfilled in marriage
When a person marries, that person forfeits control of his/her body to the his/her partner
Both partners are forbidden to refuse the meeting of their mate’s sexual needs
The “act of marriage” is designed by and approved by God
What are some of the things that I have learned? Tim recommends that men learn as much as possible. I think that men spend a lot of time and energy learning about topics like cars, stereos, televisions, internet, and video games, but they don’t spend any time seeking out reliable information regarding sex with their wives. Men should find quality resources about sex so that they can learn how to excel in this area. Reading “The Act of Marriage” is a great start! Sex is much more enjoyable when both partners enjoy it. Therefore, it is important to learn how to stimulate your wife. While a man is easily aroused by the sight of his wife, it usually takes 10-15 minutes of gentle caressing for a woman to be stimulated. To make the experience pleasurable for your wife, take the time to arouse her. This book lists the physical signs that indicate arousal and excitement for both partners (isn’t is obvious in males?).
Wives respond to male voices. Words of criticism, condemnation, or frustration will quickly cause a woman to become uninterested. On the other hand, words of affirmation, encouragement, and positivity will arouse her and get her excited about intercourse. Recently, I noticed that my wife fell asleep while I was talking gently to her; afterwards, she shared that the sound of my voice was calming. I was amazed, because I did not believe Tim’s comment when I initially read it, but now I recognize that women really do respond to male voices. Women are also romantics. This means that they want to be romanticized with low-lighting, dinner, small gifts, and communication. It is important to treat your wife as the most special person in your life and show her that you love her more than anything or anybody else. An important part of showing your spouse love is touching her throughout the day. Tim says that a woman needs to be touched 12 times during a day to know that she is loved, and all 12 of those times cannot be in the evening immediately before sex. Husbands should touch their wives continually throughout the day – and be cognizant of where you touch her, because when you are in the presence of other people there are certain touches that are appropriate and others that are not.
In general, women are more private about their sexual lives than men, and women quickly become embarrassed when talking about acts in the bedroom. The acts of marriage are private between a husband and a wife. In each one another’s presence, the husband and wife should not be ashamed or bashful in any way. However, those moments of complete un-bashfulness should not be shared outside of the bedroom; they are private between the two lovers. Men need to honor their wives and respect that privacy. Concisely, educate yourself about sex, touch her throughout the day, don’t rush sex, communicate openly about sex, do not be embarrassed in front of your lover, keep the acts of marriage private, shower and scrub regularly to avoid offensive odors, and love your wife through your words.
Tiredness has a significant impact on your sex drive. Take a 20-minute nap if your metabolic schedules do not align (I am much more active in the morning at 6:00am, where she is more amorous in the evening)! Also, the best love making sessions are spontaneous when we both feel the passion; it is ok to let dinner sit cold while you make love. The act of marriage is sacred and should receive priority. This is interesting and something that I did not really consider.
The last part of the book provided answers to common questions, and I found that many of the questions piqued my interest. For example, homosexuality is a distortion of God’s design, but through prayer, forgiveness, and counseling, it can be corrected. I also learned some new words: fellatio and cunnilingus. Also, alcohol affects a male’s ability to maintain an erection. There is not a single alcoholic who has a normal sex drive.
A large portion of the book talks about factors that prevent husbands and wives from enjoying the benefits of sex. Since such a large portion of the book is devoted to talking about factors that negatively affect a healthy enjoyment of sex, it is obvious to me that many people struggle with one or many of these things. The best thing that I can do is educate myself about them, so that I am equipped to address them when they arise in my marriage. For a woman, the common factors that prevent her from reaching orgasm include:
Ignorance about the female sexual response and how it works
Resentment and revenge
Not enough time
Misconception between “sexual surrender” and “choleric dominance”
Weak vaginal muscles. This can be addressed by the Kegel exercises, which are explained in the book
Men have their own set of problems when it comes to sex, and similar to women, most of the problems start in the brain. The common causes for male impotency:
Loss of energy due to aging
Anger, bitterness, and resentment
Fear, especially fear of impotency
Ridicule about anything regarding his masculinity or reproductive organs
Poor physical fitness
Mental pressure from work
Clearly, there are many mental, emotional, and physical aspects that must align for sex to work, and be maximally enjoyable, according to God’s design. The Lord does not want us to be miserable human beings on this planet, so He has given us many good things to enjoy. We are designed to enjoy celebrations (like weddings and holidays), we are designed to enjoy food (like cookies and ice cream), and we are designed to enjoy sex. God gave us all of these things to enjoy, and we should not feel guilty about enjoying any of them! To optimally enjoy sex, we need learn about and embrace God’s design. The best sex is experienced in marriage, just like it should be.
In my own words, the keys to sexual satisfaction of the wife are embracing her sexual role, taking time for foreplay and petting, and clitoral stimulation. For the husband, it is important to remember that impotency happens occasionally, normal function will return, and that common causes of impotency are fatigue, alcohol, and mental pressure. Furthermore, both partners must maintain physical fitness and resolve toxic emotions such as fear, guilt, anger, and resentment.
phlegmatic: having a slow and stolid temperament; not emotional or excited about things; calm emotion
choleric: have a bad-tempered and irritable temperament; easily moved to unreasonable or excessive anger
fellatio: oral stimulation of man’s penis
cunnilingus: oral stimulation of woman’s vulva or clitoris